If you don’t get plenty of whole grains in your diet, you should. Whole grains are packed full of nutrients and complex carbohydrates that decrease insulin levels while providing sustained energy. They’re also loaded with fiber, which improves bowel health, helps regulate cholesterol levels, helps you lose weight, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Considering the health benefits associated with whole grains, it’s unsurprising that new research shows that eating them could help you live longer. Specifically, researchers found that people who ate 3 or more servings of whole grains daily (about 70 grams) had a 20% reduced risk of premature death during the study period, compared to those who ate fewer or no servings of whole grains.

People who ate the most whole grains (vs. those who ate the least) were found to be 16% less likely to die of any cause during the study, nearly 20% less likely to die from cardiovascular-related disease, and over 10% less likely to die of cancer. [1]

For each additional serving of whole grains, the risk of cardiovascular disease-related death dropped by 9%, and cancer-related death risk dropped by 5%.

A few examples of 16 grams of whole grains include one slice of 100% whole grain bread, or a half-cup of cooked oatmeal, cooked brown rice, or cooked 100% whole grain pasta. [2]

Analyzing 14 Studies and 786,076 Individuals

The findings come from scientists at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who analyzed 14 published studies of long-term health information from 786,076 participants. plus additional pertinent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).

Of the 786,076 subjects, 97,867 died during the studies. Nearly 24,000 died of cardiovascular disease and over 37,000 died of cancer.

Qi Sun, assistant professor in the school’s Department of Nutrition and senior author of the study, said:

“Whole grains should be considered part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. They should not be considered a magic food, or a magic bullet, for increasing longevity.” [3]

This is the first large analysis of whole grain consumption and premature death.

Whole-grain nutrients are released in the digestive tract more slowly than those in refined grains, such as white flour, white rice, and regular white pasta. Also, people tend to chew whole grains longer, which stimulates more satiety hormones.

Read: The Difference Between Healthy Grains and Unhealthy Grains

whole-vs-refined-grains
Source: Authority Nutrition

Sun said:

“There’s a pretty linear association between whole grain intake and mortality. There are many biological pathways that would explain why whole grains are beneficial.”

Sun added that although whole grains are readily available in store, most people don’t consume enough of them.

He also said that low-carbohydrate diets that neglect the health benefits of whole grains “should be adopted with caution,” due to a higher risk of heart disease.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Chicago Tribune

[3] Reuters

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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.